The two-cent piece, minted from 1864 to 1873 was a short-lived and currently obsolete denomination from the US Mint. It was one of the shortest-lived denominations and issue of any United States coin. Around this time, the Mint was creating two-cent pieces and three-cent pieces, with the nickel three-cent coin replacing the silver design in 1865, one year after the first year of the two-cent piece. Just after the conclusion of the two-cent piece in 1873, the Mint began minting another popular obsolete denomination, the twenty-cent piece. This type was incredibly short lived, concluding in 1878, just 3 years after its introduction. Around this time, the US Mint seemed to have been obsessed with creating several different denominations until finally settling in on what you generally use today. The mintages of the two-cent coins started out strong, but dwindled down every year and 1873 was a proof-only year. The coin was designed by James Longacre and weighted 6.22 grams, double the weight of the bronze Indian Head Cent, also designed by Longacre and released the same year. The coin was composed of 95% copper, plus a 5% tin and zinc combination. These coins, with a diameter of 23 millimeters are slightly larger than small cents. All two-cent pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint.
No mintmark - Philadelphia
Key Dates and Errors
Despite being a short series, there are several incredible valuable years, varieties, and errors. As the years become newer, the mintage counts significantly decrease, meaning the later dates are generally more valuable than the earlier dates. In 1864, the first year of mintage, there were two varieties, one with a small motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” and the other having a large motto. On the large motto, the letters are larger and more condensed than on the small motto variety. The small motto variety is significantly more valuable and rarer, bringing in over $1,000 in low mint state grades, while the large motto can be had in mint state condition for only around $100. In 1867, there is a known semi-common doubled die obverse error. These errors can fetch prices higher than non-error coins, so be sure to be on the lookout for these. 1873 is the rarest date, considering the only coins minted were proof examples. These coins can be had for just under $3,000. 1872 is the most valuable date even without a variety or error.
Should I Get A Two-Cent Piece Graded?
This is not a rare series by any means. It is definitely rarer than most modern issues, but a low-grade example is well under $100, often being under $20. Higher grade examples or the varieties listed above are much more valuable. Those are the times I would recommend getting a two-cent piece graded. If you have an 1864 small motto, that is definitely a worthy coin, along with the 1867 doubled die obverse and 1873 proof. Beyond that, I would generally only recommend grading the coins if they are mint state or high AU examples or an 1872.
Yeoman, R S. A Guide Book of United States Coins 2018 Essential Edition: The Official Red Book. Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2017.
"PCGS Online - Estimating Coin Grades Has Never Been Easier." PCGS,www.pcgs.com/photograde/.